"Throwing Starfish" Matters To The One
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Did you know that the Chin Hills of Burma has one of the highest poverty rates in the world? Did you know that because of civil strife and unrest, poverty and disease (including HIV and leprosy) there may be as many as 1.9 million children under the age of 17 who are orphans in Burma with no safety net of governmental structure to help them. Because of the severe poverty, they are largely left to survive as best as they can, always with the threat of the human traffickers looming over their heads. And for too many, that is the way to survival.
Five years ago, I became friends with a group of people known as the Zomi Chin people of Burma. They came here as refugees, some having waited for years in refugee camps until an opening became available for them. By American standards, they have every right to be bitter because many of them had to flee for their lives. But they are some of the most joyous and generous and loving people I have ever met.
In December of 2014, one of my closest Zomi friends and his family were granted US citizenship and are now free to travel back to see family they have not seen in many years. Their three children were born here, and both his and his wife's fathers have passed away since they have been gone. Sia Pau has told me many things about his country, and also of their still great love and burden for the place of their birth. Their dream is to get home once more and see their mothers and introduce the children to their grandmothers.
With the difficulty of a language barrier, good jobs are hard to get here, but the Zomi are hard working and are often cited for their dedication and loyalty in the jobs they have. They are also extremely generous with each other when there is a need. It is no surprise to know how difficult it is for Sia Pau to save enough money to take his family back for what he calls "the one-time trip of their lives." Because of the high cost of air fare and in-country travel, and the fact that he will go back for about 6-7 weeks, he estimates the cost of the trip at about $25000 for his entire family for such an extended stay.
So how does the orphan situation in Burma tie in with all this? The plight of the children is a burden that has been heavy on his shoulders since before he left Burma, and that has led to one more difficulty in saving enough money for a trip back. In the past five years that he has been in this country, he has sent over $20000 of his own money back to help the children. That is a formidable sum for any of us, but he and his family have gone without luxuries, without a down payment for a home of their own, and they live a very frugal, no-frills life to ensure help for the "forgotten" children of their town. But there are so many children who need help! Yes, and if you throw one starfish back into the ocean, that one will have a chance at survival. Lives are saved one at a time. The orphanage Sia Pau is helping to build is not just for housing. It will provide housing, love, medicine, education, and just as importantly--a place of safety. It will give each child that comes through its door a chance at life itself.
I am asking for donations (any amount will help) to reach our goal of $50000 (greatly needed by November 2015) to help him get his family back for a visit, and to make a huge donation toward the continued construction of the orphanage building on your behalf. The people of the Chin Hills view Americans as a loving, generous people and your donation will encourage them more than you can imagine. It would be wonderful if you were a part of saving a child's life. Thank you with all our hearts.